Tag Archives: NEA

Violence against teachers is becoming a bigger issue

29 Nov

Education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. Increasingly, those in the teaching profession are victims of violence in the classroom.

Carolyn Thompson of AP reported in the article, Teacher Killings Bring Shocking School Violence Numbers To Light:

About 4 percent of public school teachers reported they had been attacked physically during the 2007-08 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, citing a 2012 school safety report. Seven percent were threatened with injury by a student.
A 2011 survey found that 80 percent of teachers reported being intimidated, harassed, assaulted or otherwise victimized at least once during the previous year.
Of the 3,000 teachers surveyed, 44 percent reported physical offenses including thrown objects, student attacks and weapons shown, according to the American Psychological Association Task Force on Violence Directed Against Teachers, which conducted the national web-based survey.
The task force recommended creating a national registry to track the nature and frequency of incidents, saying this would help develop plans for prevention and intervention. It also suggested that all educators be required to master classroom management before they are licensed to teach…

The National Education Association (NEA) is also following the school violence issue.

Tim Walker wrote in the NEA Today article, Violence Against Teachers – An Overlooked Crisis?

According to a recent article published by the American Psychological Association (APA), 80 percent of teachers surveyed were victimized at school at least once in the current school year or prior year. Teacher victimization is a “national crisis,” says Dr. Dorothy Espelage of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who served as chair of the APA task force on Classroom Violence Directed at Teachers. And yet, the issue is generally ignored or at least underreported by the media and given inadequate attention by scholars – a deficiency that has widespread implications for school safety, the teaching profession and student learning.
The APA article was based on a survey – one of the few national studies – conducted in 2011 that solicited anonymous responses from almost 3,000 K-12 teachers in 48 states (NEA assisted APA by distributing the survey to its members).
NEA Today recently spoke with Dr. Espelage about the tasks force’s findings and recommendations and how addressing teacher victimization must be a component of any comprehensive school safety plan.
What kinds of attacks are teachers facing?
About half of the teachers who reported being victimized experienced harassment. Others reported property offenses, including theft and damage to property. And about one-quarter of these teachers experienced physical attacks. Harassment includes anything from obscene gestures, verbal threats and intimidation and obscene remarks. With physical offenses, teachers widely reported objects being thrown at them and being physically attacked. The most severe and uncommon cases are physical attacks that result in a visit to the doctor.
In your work with the task force, what did you find out that might surprise people?
A big surprise was the general scarcity of research out there about the victimization of teachers in the workplace. When the APA asked me as head the task force to conduct a survey, I assumed a lot of research was out there, but itwasn’t. It’s 2013 and there have been only 14 studies conducted internationally. It’s a very underreported problem.
So if you have an area that isn’t being studied thoroughly, it will never come to the attention of the public. And that won’t translate into better pre-service training, professional development for teachers, more support from administrators and other measures that can be taken to address the issue.
Any comprehensive examination of school violence must include violence directed at teachers. Focusing solely on student victimization to the exclusion of teacher victimization results in an inadequate representation of safety issues, which makes it more difficult to formulate effective solutions.
What people also should know is that we’re not just talking about students attacking or harassing teachers. Students are not always the perpetuators. We heard about incidents of adult-on-adult incidents – including parents and colleagues. What we found is that a physical attack was more likely to come from a parent as opposed to a student.
You also found that a teacher who is victimized by a member of one group, say a student, is more likely to be victimized by another group.
Yes, but it’s hard to determine why that is. It could be a number of factors. A student who harasses or threatens might come from a family who is inclined to victimize the teacher in some way as well. It could be something about the teacher. Maybe he or she is not adequately supported by the administration and puts them at risk for other episodes.
What are the costs to the school or community?
The big issue is teacher attrition. It’s hard to know exactly but we suspect that it is one component of many that explains why teachers are leaving the profession. Other costs include lost wages, lost instructional time, potenial negative publicity for the school, and a negative impact on student learning. Teacher cannot perform their job effectively if they feel threatened.
The task force makes a number of recommendations, including the creation of a national registry that can be used to track these incidents. You also urge that teacher preparation programs be strengthened so that teachers enter the classroom better prepared to confront and defuse potential violence. How much of an impact can this make when so many other outside factors contribute to the problem?
Many pre-service teachers aren’t necessarily equipped with the skills to manage their classrooms. So it starts with pre-service education. This is a priority in special ed, where teachers are really taught how to deescalate conflict. So one of the top recommendations we make in the report is urging teacher preparation programs to provide the next generation of teachers with a better skill-set that can at least help manage conflicts before they escalate.
Clearly teachers aren’t victimized just because they haven’t received adequate pre-service training or professional development.I also take a sociological perspective to studying the issue. What are the demographics of the school? What’s the administration like? What resources are available at the school? What neighborhood is the school situated in? And obviously we have to look at parental involvement.
And what’s the school climate like? We know about the connection between positive school climate and lack of aggressive or violent behavior. The research is very clear on that connection. Really strong leadership by the administration is needed to create a positive learning climate. How well does the administration connect with the teachers, how well do they know the student? The entire ecology of the school and the community has to be taken into account.
As for additional resources and teacher support, the trend in many states isn’t headed in the right direction. Class sizes are betting bigger – that certainly doesn’t help – and teachers are receiving less support, not more. So major shifts have to occur in our priorities for education funding. This is why we need to study this issue more, raise greater awareness, and help move the conversation forward.
Read the APA article, “Understanding and Preventing Violence Directed Against Teachers.”
See also:
When Educators Are Assaulted-What NEA Affiliates Are Doing to Protect Members from Violent and Disruptive Students
Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools
Related posts:
1. Preventing School Violence: Are We Making the Grade?
2. Educators Say Mental Health Awareness Key to Preventing Gun Violence
3. NEA Poll: Educators Support Stronger Laws to Prevent Gun Violence
4. How Teachers Can Help Cope With a Crisis
5. Four Things You Need to Know About the Pension “Crisis”

Dr Joan Simeo Munson has some good suggestions about how to deal with aggressive behavior in young children http://www.empoweringparents.com/author_display.php?auth=Dr.-Joan-Simeo-Munson
According to Leo J. Bastiaens, MD and Ida K. Bastiaens in their article about youth aggression in the Psychiatric Times, http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/youth-aggression-economic-impact-causes-prevention-and-treatment?verify=0 one of the treatment options is medication. For some children medication works and helps them to control their aggressive tendencies. Probably, more children are medicated than need to be, but the decision to use medication is highly individual and should be made in conjunction with health care providers. A second or even a third opinion may be necessary. NYU’s Child Study Center has an excellent Guide to Psychiatric Medicine for Children and Adolescents http://www.aboutourkids.org/articles/guide_psychiatric_medications_children_adolescents Mary E. Muscari, PhD, CPNP, APRN-BC,CFNS Professor, Director of Forensic Health/Nursing, University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania; Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychological Clinical Specialist, Forensic Clinical Specialist, Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania writes at Medscape.Com about pharmacotherapy for adolescents

Before prescribing medication therapy for aggression, the clinician should ensure that the patient has a medical evaluation to rule out contraindications to treatment and to determine whether the patient’s aggressive symptoms might improve with appropriate medical care. Psychiatric evaluation is also necessary to determine whether psychosis, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other problems are present. Treatment of these conditions may also result in reduced symptoms of aggression. Nonpharmacologic measures should be instituted; however, when pharmacologic treatment is warranted, institute treatment with an antiaggression medication that best fits the patient’s symptom cluster. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/545247

Medication should not be a first resort, but is an acceptable option after a thorough evaluation of all treatment options has been made.

Aggressive behavior can be costly for the child and society if the child’s behavior is not modified. At least one study has found preventative intervention is effective:

E. Michael Foster, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Damon Jones, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, in conjunction with the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, examined the cost effectiveness of the NIMH-funded Fast Track program, a 10-year intervention designed to reduce aggression among at-risk children….
Previous results showed that among children moderately at risk for conduct disorder, there were no significant differences in outcomes between the intervention group and the control group. However, among the high-risk group, fewer than half as many cases of conduct disorder were diagnosed in the intervention group as in the control group. These results were extended in the current paper to consider also the cost effectiveness of providing the early intervention. By weighing the costs of the intervention relative to the costs of crime and delinquency found among the study participants, the researchers concluded that this early prevention program was cost-effective in reducing conduct disorder and delinquency, but only for those who were very high-risk as young children. http://www.4therapy.com/news/also-news/targeted-preventive-interventions-most-aggressive-children-2747

As with many problems, the key is early diagnosis and intervention with appropriate treatment. Purposeful harm to another person is never acceptable.

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School choice: Community schools

23 Oct

Moi wrote in Improving education: Community schools:
There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important. For some communities and for some children, “community schools” might improve education achievement. The Coalition for Community Schools is a great resource for those interested in “community schools.”

A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community and are open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings and weekends.
Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. Partners work to achieve these results:
o Children are ready to learn when they enter school and every day thereafter. All students learn and achieve to high standards.
o Young people are well prepared for adult roles in the workplace, as parents and as citizens.
o Families and neighborhoods are safe, supportive and engaged.
o Parents and community members are involved with the school and their own life-long learning.
To learn more about the Coalition’s vision of a community school, read the section An Enduring Vision in the Coalition’s report, Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools. Also, watch as the U.S. Secretary of Education speak of the importance of community schools on Charlie Rose.
For more information on what it means to be a community school, read Community Schools: Partnerships for Excellence (PDF, 426k).

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post wrote an interesting article about “community schools.”

In Why community schools are part of the answer, Strauss wrote:

Community schools, by directly dealing with many of the out-of-school issues that affect how students do in school — such as violence, family mobility, etc. — help to create the conditions that allow young people to actually concentrate on academics. Community schools seek to create conditions for learning that include:
*Fostering early childhood development through high-quality comprehensive programs.
*Providing students qualified teachers, challenging curriculum and high standards and expectations.
*Addressing the basic physical, mental and emotional health needs of families.
*Creating safe, supportive school climates through community engagement.
There is not a single model of community school initiatives but rather a number of different ones that share common principles, according to the Coalition for Community Schools. The coalition is an alliance of elementary, secondary and post-secondary organizations at the state, local and national level that are involved with education, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services and more.
One of the many models of community schools, which serve millions of children around the country, is called “Schools of the 21st Century,” which provides school-based child care and family support services.
Created by Edward Ziegler, a professor at Yale University who was an architect of the Head Start program, this model is now being used in 1,300 schools across the country and turns regular public schools into year-round centers where different services are provided to families the before, during and after school hours. You can learn about other models here.

Strauss has updated here report with a piece by Brock Cohen.

In the Washington Post article, Why community schools are a no-brainer, Cohen wrote:

The community schools framework rejects this notion. This is because each of its foundational principles reveals the imperative of addressing low achievement through a holistic course of action. Such a transition represents a radical departure from past school initiatives because it has the audacity to shine a light on gaps carved out by social inequity. As importantly, the movement’s current champions (Sen. Liu among them) refuse to shy away from naming poverty and social injustice as the primary impediments to student learning. As a call to arms, they direct us to the sprawling body of evidence that proves how futile any reform effort will become without quickly addressing 0-4 poverty-induced learning gaps, summer literacy erosion, or a failure to ensure that all children have quality physical and mental health care.
They also emphasize how community schools are as much an exercise in sober fiscal pragmatism as they are a moral call to action. The consequences of academic failure are everyone’s problem, costing the state over $58 billion each year in incarceration expenses, health care, and taxable income.
But the gaps aren’t insurmountable. They can gradually narrow by leveraging partnerships; engaging families; and re-defining schools as safe, stable, welcoming community spaces. And because the needs of children vary across demographics and geographies, the model embraces flexibility: Each school site should customize its own approach in conjunction with local agencies and civic partners that understand the primacy of nurturing the whole child. So while community schools seek to address all domains of student need, some may allocate more resources toward specific services or strategies. For example:
• Pasadena’s Madison Elementary has teamed with Healthy Start to provide comprehensive on-site health, wellness, and social, and parent education to all of its students and families
• Four Redwood City Schools have formed a consortium with civic partners to make 0-5 education and enrichment a regional imperative.
• Behind the support of the Community Heath & Adolescent Mentoring Program for Success (CHAMPS), Oakland Tech High has detailed programs in place to boost student engagement and youth leadership.
• Joining forces with Inner City Struggle (ICS), East L.A.’s Esteban E. Torres High School offers primary healthcare, mental health, reproductive services, and dental care to all of its students.
Past school reform initiatives focused on channeling limited fiscal and human resource inputs to schools and districts. What makes the community schools framework more substantive and sustainable is that it establishes inputs as the process by which each of a child’s needs domains are fulfilled. If community partners and resources (as inputs) are actively engaged in addressing these needs (health, wellness, literacy and cognitive growth) the outcomes will take care of themselves.
The past decade-plus of school reform has been as notable for its soaring rhetoric as for its inaction on the issues that truly hinder learning and achievement. But as an educator who’s fresh from the classroom, I cannot stress how gratifying it is to see evidence of collective and intentional action springing up in schools throughout the state. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that each of the schools on the Pathways to Partnerships bus tour has shown seismic improvements in campus-wide learning, health, and wellness since fully committing to the community schools framework. But scores of others throughout California have followed the same pattern.
Still, it goes without saying that community schools are not a cure for soaring child poverty (afflicting 1 in 4 children statewide). And an even bigger nemesis may be the “not my kid” mindset that seems to afflict a vast number of citizens who remain undeterred by California’s nationwide ranking of 49 in per-pupil expenditures…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/23/why-community-schools-are-a-no-brainer/

Moi wrote in The ‘whole child’ approach to education:
Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process.
The National Education Association (NEA) describes the “whole child” approach to learning in the paper, Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child.

Meeting the needs of the whole child requires:

• Addressing multiple dimensions, including students’ physical, social and emotional health and well-being.
• Ensuring equity, adequacy and sustainability in resources and quality among public schools and districts.
• Ensuring that students are actively engaged in a wide variety of experiences and settings within—and outside—the classroom.
• Providing students with mentors and counselors as necessary to make them feel safe and secure.
• Ensuring that the condition of schools is modern and up-to-date, and that schools provide access to a broad array of resources.
• Reducing class size so that students receive the individualized attention they need to succeed.
• Encouraging parental and community involvement. http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/WholeChildBackgrounder.pdf

ASCD, (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) along with the NEA is leading in the adoption of the “whole child” approach.

Sean Slade, director of Healthy School Communities, a program of the ASCD, an education leadership organization wrote the Washington Post article, Taking a stand for ‘the whole child’ approach to school reform.

A whole child approach to education enhances learning by addressing each student’s social, emotional, physical, and academic needs through the shared contributions of schools, families, communities, and policymakers. It is a move away from education policy that far too narrowly focuses on student standardized test scores as the key school accountability measure and that has resulted in the narrowing of curriculum as well as rigid teaching and learning environments.
The true measure of student success is much more than a test score, and ensuring that young people achieve in and out of school requires support well beyond effective academic instruction. The demands of the 21st century require a new approach to education to fully prepare our nation’s youth for college, career, and citizenship.
Our last two Vision in Action Award Winners, Price Laboratory School (PLS) in Iowa and Quest Early College High School in Texas, exemplify what we mean. Both of these schools work to ensure that each child is healthy, safe, supported, engaged and challenged, whether it is through foundation of daily physical education for all grades K-12; or the weekly health programs promoting empowerment, fresh and organic foods, as is the case at Price Lab; or yearlong personal wellness plans, and a focus on social/emotional as well as physical health at Quest
Lessons and projects extend outside the classroom walls and into the local community. They are adapted to engage students and reworked to provide for personal learning styles and interest. Advisory groups – or “families” as they are called at Quest – abound and are a crucial part in making each teacher, student and family feel respected. And in both schools all are expected to achieve and are provided the mechanisms to do so. They don’t just set the bar high. They provide the steps and supports to get over that bar.
Both schools have gone beyond just a vision for educating the whole child to actions that result in learners who are knowledgeable, emotionally and physically healthy, civically active, artistically engaged, prepared for economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond formal schooling.
But this ideal should not be found only in the the occasional school. It should be found in all schools….
If you think a child’s worth is more than a test score, sign ASCD’s petition to create a President’s Council on the Whole Child.

Many of the schools and neighborhoods facing challenges are where there are pockets of high unemployment and underemployment with high levels of family instability. Children in these neighborhoods face a myriad of challenges which require an more comprehensive approach to education. See, Christina Silva’s Huffington Post article, 1 in 5 U.S. Children Lives in Poverty http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/17/1-in-5-us-children-live-i_n_929424.html

ASCD is promoting the Whole Child Initiative:

Explore resources and opportunities for action here and on http://www.wholechildeducation.org, and together we’ll change the face of education policy and practice. Find sets of indicators related to each tenet below. Taken together across all five tenets and the central necessities of collaboration, coordination, and integration, these indicators may serve as a needs assessment, set of strategic goals and outcomes, framework for decision making, or the definition of what a whole child approach to education truly requires. Download theindicators (PDF).
Whole Child Tenets
o Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle.
o Each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults.
o Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.
o Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.
o Each student is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.

In order to ensure that ALL children have a basic education, we must take a comprehensive approach to learning.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

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New social studies framewok

17 Sep

Moi wrote in Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful? Back in the day there was this book entitled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy).http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracywhich was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA,Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.
Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’
The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries.http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile? https://drwilda.com/2012/03/12/cultural-literacy-is-there-necessary-core-knowledge-to-be-academically-successful/

Catherine Gewertz reported in the Education Week article, New Social Studies Framework Aims to Guide Standards:

A coalition of states and professional organizations today released a new social studies framework that is designed to offer states guidance when they revise their own academic standards.
The College, Career, and Civic Life Framework, dubbed “C3,” marks a major effort to represent the priorities of four of the social studies disciplines: geography, civics, economics, and history. The three-year project brought classroom teachers and subject-matter specialists from 22 states together with college faculty members and representatives of 15 professional organizations in the social studies to craft an overarching set of guidelines that states can use as they write more detailed sets of expectations for students.
Mindful of the political delicacy of specifying social studies content, the framework’s authors steer clear of subject-matter content, instead laying out an “inquiry arc” with four “dimensions” that span the disciplines: developing questions and planning inquiries; applying disciplinary concepts and tools; evaluating sources and using evidence; and communicating conclusions and taking informed action.
“The C3 framework focuses on inquiry skills and key concepts, and guides¬—not prescribes—the choice of curricular content necessary for a rigorous social studies program,” the document says. “Content is critically important to the disciplines within social studies and individual state leadership will be required to select appropriate and relevant content.”
The Silver Spring, Md.-based National Council for the Social Studies, which led the effort along with University of Kentucky associate professor Kathy Swan, published the 129-page document on its website today.
Leaders of the initiative emphasized that the framework is not a set of standards or a curriculum. Those are better left to states and districts, which vary in what content they want to emphasize in the classroom, they said. Montana, for instance, requires instruction about the culture and history of Native Americans, while North Carolina teachers might spend more time discussing the Civil War, since key events unfolded there, said Susan Griffin, the executive director of the NCSS…..

Here is a synopsis of the framework:

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards
Submitted by TimDaly on Wed, 09/11/2013 – 11:26am
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: State Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12 Civics, Economics, Geography, and History

The result of a three year state-led collaborative effort, the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards was developed to serve two audiences: for states to upgrade their state social studies standards and for practitioners — local school districts, schools, teachers and curriculum writers — to strengthen their social studies programs. Its objectives are to: a) enhance the rigor of the social studies disciplines; b) build critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills to become engaged citizens; and c) align academic programs to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.
What are the guiding principles?
The C3 is driven by the following shared principles about high quality social studies education:
Social studies prepares the nation’s young people for college, careers, and civic life.
Inquiry is at the heart of social studies.
Social studies involves interdisciplinary applications and welcomes integration of the arts and humanities.
Social studies is composed of deep and enduring understandings, concepts, and skills from the disciplines. Social studies emphasizes skills and practices as preparation for democratic decision-making.
Social studies education should have direct and explicit connections to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
What are the instructional shifts for social studies?
The C3 Framework, like the Common Core State Standards, emphasizes the acquisition and application of knowledge to prepare students for college, career, and civic life. It intentionally envisions social studies instruction as an inquiry arc of interlocking and mutually reinforcing elements that speak to the intersection of ideas and learners. The Four Dimensions highlighted below center on the use of questions to spark curiosity, guide instruction, deepen investigations, acquire rigorous content, and apply knowledge and ideas in real world settings to become active and engaged citizens in the 21st century.
C3 Framework Organization
Dimension 1: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries Dimension 2: Applying Disciplinary Tools and Concepts Dimension 3: Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence Dimension 4: Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action
Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries Civics Gathering and Evaluating Sources Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions
Geography Developing Claims and Using Evidence Taking Informed Action
Connections to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies
The C3 Framework changes the conversation about literacy instruction in social studies by creating a context that is meaningful and purposeful. Reading, writing, speaking and listening and language skills are critically important for building disciplinary literacy and the skills needed for college, career, and civic life. Each of the Four Dimensions are strategically aligned to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.
Why do we need the C3 Framework?
There are a number of motivating factors that inspired this work:
Marginalization of the Social Studies – The loss of instructional time at the elementary level and the narrowing of instruction in response to multiple-choice, high-stakes testing has significantly impacted time, resources, and support for the social studies. The introduction of the Common Core provided an opportunity for social studies educators to re-frame instruction to promote disciplinary literacy in social studies in such a way as to allow social studies to regain a more balanced and elevated role in the K-12 curriculum.
Motivation of Students – Children and adolescents are naturally curious about the complex and multifaceted world they inhabit. But they quickly become disengaged when instruction is limited to reading textbooks to answer end-of-chapter questions and taking multiple-choice tests that may measure content knowledge but do little to measure how knowledge is meaningful and applicable in the real world. The C3 Framework addresses this issue in fundamental ways.
The Future of Our Democracy – Abundant research bears out the sad reality that fewer and fewer young people, particularly students of color and students in poverty, are receiving a high quality social studies educator, despite the central role of social studies in preparing students for the responsibilities of citizenship. Active and responsible citizens are able to identify and analyze public problems, deliberate with other people about how to define and address issues, take constructive action together, reflect on their actions, create and sustain groups, and influence institutions both large and small. They vote, serve on juries when called, follow the news and current events, and participate in voluntary groups and efforts. Implementing the C3 Framework to teach students to be able to act in these ways—as citizens—significantly enhances preparation for college and career.
Collaboration is Key
For these reasons and many more, thousands of social studies experts, curriculum specialists, teachers and scholars from across the nation, and the following organizations have been involved in the development of the C3 Framework.

The National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (NCSS) makes the case for social studies standards.

In National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: Introduction, the NCSS states:

What Is Social Studies and Why Is It Important?
National Council for the Social Studies, the largest professional association for social studies educators in the world, defines social studies as:
…the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.1
The aim of social studies is the promotion of civic competence—the knowledge, intellectual processes, and democratic dispositions required of students to be active and engaged participants in public life. Although civic competence is not the only responsibility of social studies nor is it exclusive to the field, it is more central to social studies than to any other subject area in schools. By making civic competence a central aim, NCSS has long recognized the importance of educating students who are committed to the ideas and values of democracy. Civic competence rests on this commitment to democratic values, and requires the abilities to use knowledge about one’s community, nation, and world; apply inquiry processes; and employ skills of data collection and analysis, collaboration, decision-making, and problem-solving. Young people who are knowledgeable, skillful, and committed to democracy are necessary to sustaining and improving our democratic way of life, and participating as members of a global community.

The civic mission of social studies demands the inclusion of all students—addressing cultural, linguistic, and learning diversity that includes similarities and differences based on race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, exceptional learning needs, and other educationally and personally significant characteristics of learners. Diversity among learners embodies the democratic goal of embracing pluralism to make social studies classrooms laboratories of democracy.

In democratic classrooms and nations, deep understanding of civic issues—such as immigration, economic problems, and foreign policy—involves several disciplines. Social studies marshals the disciplines to this civic task in various forms. These important issues can be taught in one class, often designated “social studies,” that integrates two or more disciplines. On the other hand, issues can also be taught in separate discipline-based classes (e.g., history or geography). These standards are intended to be useful regardless of organizational or instructional approach (for example, a problem-solving approach, an approach centered on controversial issues, a discipline-based approach, or some combination of approaches). Specific decisions about curriculum organization are best made at the local level. To this end, the standards provide a framework for effective social studies within various curricular perspectives. http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/introduction


C3 Framework – College, Career, and Civic Life

We desperately need an informed citizenry in this country.

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NEA policy statement on blended digital learning

27 Jul

Moi wrote in The digital divide in classrooms:
One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has a good bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview As technology becomes more prevalent in society and increasingly is used in schools, there is talk of a “digital divide” between the haves and have-nots. Laurence Wolff and Soledad MacKinnon define the “digital divide” in their article, What is the Digital Divide?

The “digital divide,” inequalities in access to and utilization of information and communication technologies (ICT), is immense. http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/57449/digitaldivide.pdf

Access to information technology varies within societies and it varies between countries. The focus of this article is the digital divide in education.

Jim Jansen reports in the Pew Internet report, Use of the internet in higher-income households:

Those in higher-income households are different from other Americans in their tech ownership and use.
95% of those in households earning over $75,000 use the internet and cell phones
Those in higher-income households are more likely to use the internet on any given day, own multiple internet-ready devices, do things involving money online, and get news online.
Some 95% of Americans who live in households earning $75,000 or more a year use the internet at least occasionally, compared with 70% of those living in households earning less than $75,000.
Even among those who use the internet, the well off are more likely than those with less income to use technology. Of those 95% of higher-income internet users:
o 99% use the internet at home, compared with 93% of the internet users in lower brackets.
o 93% of higher-income home internet users have some type of broadband connection versus 85% of the internet users who live in households earning less than $75,000 per year. That translates into 87% of all those in live in those better-off households having broadband at home.
o 95% of higher-income households own some type of cell phone compared with 83% in households with less income.
The differences among income cohorts apply to other technology as well
The relatively well-to-do are also more likely than those in lesser-income households to own a variety of information and communications gear.3
o 79% of those living in households earning $75,000 or more own desktop computers, compared with 55% of those living in less well-off homes.
o 79% of those living in higher-income households own laptops, compared with 47% of those living in less well-off homes.
o 70% of those living in higher-income households own iPods or other MP3 players, compared with 42% of those living in less well-off homes.
o 54% of those living in higher-income households own game consoles, compared with 41% of those living in less well-off homes.
o 12% of those living in higher-income households own e-book readers such as Kindles, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes.
o 9% of those living in higher-income households own tablet computers such as iPads, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Better-off-households.aspx
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Unless school leadership is very innovative in seeking grants and/or outside assistance or the school has been adopted by a technology angel, poorer schools are likely to be far behind their more affluent peers in the acquisition of technology. https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/the-digital-divide-in-classrooms/

Stephen Sawchuck wrote in the Education Week article, NEA Digital-Learning Policy Eschews Online-Only Instruction:

It is the union’s first attempt to update its policies in this area in 11 years. And in a sense, it outlines the NEA’s best hopes and worst fears about the exploding digital-learning movement and all it encompasses.
For instance, the statement says that optimal learning environments “should neither be totally technology free, nor should they be totally online and devoid of educator interaction.” While there is no one best approach, it continues, each student should receive the appropriate blend of face-to-face and technology-facilitated learning, as determined by professional educators.
The statement is fairly dense, but here are some of the important highlights. Among other things, the statement says:
• That the use of technology must be “defined by educators rather than entities driven for for-profit motives.”
• Equity of access to broadband Internet and hardware is a prerequisite to meet all students’ needs, and technology is a tool that “assists and enhances the learning process,” but is not “the driver” of digital-learning plans.
• Teachers must have professional development to effectively use technology.
• Teachers should own the copyright to materials they create digitally (this is a gray area in online lesson-sharing sites).
• Technology should not be used to replace educational employees or limit their employment.
• Teachers of online learning should be fully qualified, certified, and licensed.
The policy was drafted by a committee headed by Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and Christy Levings, a member of the NEA’s executive committee. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2013/07/nea_digital-learning_policy_es.html

Here is the policy statement:

NEA Policy Statement on Digital Learning
In the fast-paced, worldwide, competitive workplace we now live in, our traditional school models are not capable of meeting the needs of the 21st century student. All students—pre-k through graduate students—need to develop advanced critical thinking and information literacy skills and master new digital tools. At the same time, they need to develop the initiative to become self-directed learners while adapting to the ever-changing digital information landscape.
This shifting landscape creates new opportunities for NEA, our affiliates, our members, and our profession in preschools, public elementary and secondary schools, and postsecondary institutions. The appropriate use of technology in education—as defined by educators rather than entities driven by for-profit motives—will improve student learning, quality of instruction, and education employee effectiveness, and will provide opportunities to eradicate educational inequities.
Digital technologies create new opportunities for accelerating, expanding, and individualizing learning. Our members and students are already actively engaged in building the schools and campuses of the future—including quality online communities. Increasingly, teachers, faculty, and staff are becoming curriculum designers who orchestrate the delivery of content using multiple instructional methods and technologies both within and beyond the traditional instructional day. Teaching and learning can now occur beyond the limitations of time and space.
NEA embraces this new environment and these new technologies to better prepare our students for college and for 21st century careers.
Ensure Equity to Meet the Needs of Every Student
NEA believes that educational programs and strategies designed to close the achievement and digital gaps must address equity issues related to broadband Internet access, software and technical support, and hardware maintenance. Also, technical support must be adequate to ensure that digital classrooms function properly and reliably for both educators and students. Under our current inequitable system of funding, simply moving to a large scale use of technology in pre-k12 and postsecondary education will more likely widen achievement gaps among students than close them. For example, school districts with lower income populations simply will not be able to provide or maintain appropriate and relevant digital tools and resources for their students. We as a nation must address the issues of equity and access in a comprehensive manner in order to see the promise and realize the opportunities that digital learning can provide.
To that end, NEA believes that student learning needs can best be met by public school districts and postsecondary institutions working in collaboration with certified teachers, qualified education support professionals, faculty and staff, and local Associations to develop comprehensive and thorough digital learning plans that address all the elements of incorporating technology into the instructional program. These plans should be living documents, constantly reviewed and adapted as changing circumstances require, but always keeping the focus on student learning. Implementation of these plans should honor experimentation and creativity as part of the learning process for both educators and students, while always maintaining support for the professional judgment of educators. It is of critical importance that the use of technology is recognized as a tool that assists and enhances the learning process, and is not the driver of the digital learning plan.
These plans also should include the provision of adaptive technologies to meet individual students’ needs, including assistive technology to support students who are English Language Learners and students with a variety of disabilities or challenges.
Support and Enhance Educator Professionalism
NEA believes that the increasing use of technology in pre-k to graduate level classrooms will transform the role of educators allowing the educational process to become ever more student-centered. This latest transformation is not novel, but part of the continuing evolution of our education system. Educators, as professionals working in the best interests of their students, will continue to adjust and adapt their instructional practice and use of digital technology/tools to meet the needs and enhance the learning of their students.
All educators—pre-k12 and postsecondary teachers, ESPs, and administrators—are essential to student learning and should have access to relevant, high-quality, interactive professional development in the integration of digital learning and the use of technology into their instruction and practice. Teachers need access to relevant training on how to use technology and incorporate its use into their instruction, ESPs need access to training on how best to support the use of technology in classrooms, and administrators need training to make informed decisions about purchasing equipment, technology use, course assignments, and personnel assignments. School districts and postsecondary institutions need to ensure that they provide interactive professional development on an ongoing basis, and to provide time for all educators to take advantage of those opportunities. The training needs to address both the basic preparation on how to make the technology work, and how to most effectively incorporate it into the educational program.
Teacher candidates need problem-solving and creativity experiences and should have the opportunity to learn different strategies throughout their pre-service education and regular professional development so they are prepared for using not only the technology of today, but of tomorrow.
In these changing roles, it is important to protect the rights of educators, and to fairly evaluate the accomplishments of educational institutions as a whole. For example, the use of supplemental, remedial, or course recovery online instruction can affect the hours, wages, and working conditions of all educational employees, but can dramatically affect college and university faculty and staff.
Educators and their local Associations need support and assistance in vetting the quality of digital course materials and in developing or accessing trusted digital venues to share best practices and provide support.
Furthermore, education employees should own the copyright to materials that they create in the course of their employment. There should be an appropriate “teacher’s exception” to the “works made for hire” doctrine, pursuant to which works created by education employees in the course of their employment are owned by the employee. This exception should reflect the unique practices and traditions of academia.
All issues relating to copyright ownership of materials created by education employees should be resolved through collective bargaining or other process of bilateral decision-making between the employer and the affiliate.
The ownership rights of education employees who create copyrightable materials should not prevent education employees from making appropriate use of such materials in providing educational services to their students.
Enhance and Enrich Student Learning
Optimal learning environments should neither be totally technology free, nor should they be totally online and devoid of educator and peer interaction. The Association believes that an environment that maximizes student learning will use a “blended” and/or “hybrid” model situated somewhere along a continuum between these two extremes.
NEA believes there is no one perfect integration of technology and traditional forms of delivering education for all students. Every class will need to be differentiated, and at some level every student needs a different approach. Professional educators are in the best position and must be directly involved in determining what combination works best in particular classes and with particular students.
Students’ maturity and developmental status determines how students adapt to the use of digital technology as they continually face more challenging materials. The use of technology in the classroom will help build self-reliance and motivation in students, but it must be appropriate to their developmental and skill level, as determined by professional educators.
As different digital tools are created and used, the impact of technology on traditional socialization roles must be considered. The face-to-face relationship between student and educator is critical to increasing student learning, and students’ interactions with each other are an important part of their socialization into society.
Additionally, assessment and accountability systems need to be carefully developed to ensure academic integrity and accurately measure the impact on students. Sensible guidelines and strategies should be used to ensure students are completing their own online assignments and taking the appropriate assessments.

The Role of the Association in Promoting High Quality, Digital Learning
The development and implementation of high quality digital learning must be a top priority of NEA and its affiliates. The Representative Assembly, therefore, directs that NEA demonstrate its support of digital learning by providing leadership and sharing learning opportunities to develop and implement high quality digital learning that enhances instruction and improves student learning. The Representative Assembly strongly encourages NEA to do this work in the field of digital learning in partnership with trusted organizations and experts who can work at the national, state, and local levels to assist states, school districts, colleges and universities, and local Associations in developing their capacity for high quality digital learning.
The Representative Assembly also directs NEA to encourage its members and utilize their expertise to engage in professional learning that enhances their understanding of how to creatively and appropriately integrate digital tools and high quality digital learning into their instruction. Such professional learning should include sharing of expertise by members who can serve as valuable mentors and professional partners for other members who are new to digital instruction.
The Representative Assembly further directs that NEA work with stakeholders, including parents, students, and policy makers, to seize the opportunities that digital technologies provide. Some educators now have access to the technological tools to further professionalize teaching, vastly enhance and enrich student learning, and meet the individual needs of every student. It is time to ensure that ALL educators have access and are prepared to use these digital tools.
Blended and/or Hybrid Learning
Blended and/or hybrid learning is an integrated instructional approach in which a student learns, at least in part, at a supervised physical location away from home and through online delivery where the student has control over at least some aspects of the time and place of accessing the curriculum. The policy statement supports maximizing student learning by using both technology and real life educators in the process. It rejects the idea that effective learning can take place completely online and without interaction with certified teachers and fully qualified faculty.
The Definition of Fully Qualified Educators
The term “educator” includes teachers and education support professionals in pre-k12 public schools, and faculty and staff of higher education institutions. Teachers should be fully qualified, certified, and/or licensed to teach the subjects they are teaching, including in online instructional settings.
Technology as a Tool
Technology is a tool to enhance and enrich instruction for students, and should not be used to replace educational employees who work with students or limit their employment.
Special Education Services
Use of virtual learning to provide instruction to students receiving special education services for behavioral/self-regulation needs will be determined by the IEP Team. The enrollment in a virtual school will not be used as a behavior consequence. http://www.nea.org/home/55434.htm

The best way to eliminate poverty is job creation, job growth, and job retention. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has a good bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview There will not be a good quality of life for most citizens without a strong education system. One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education, we are the next third world country.

Translating digital learning into K-12 education https://drwilda.com/2012/11/18/translating-digital-learning-into-k-12-education/

Rural schools and the digital divide

The digital divide affects the college application process https://drwilda.com/2012/12/08/the-digital-divide-affects-the-college-application-process/

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Ability Grouping or tracking may be making a comeback

20 Mar

A study by Courtney A. Collins and Li Gan, Does Sorting Students Improve Scores? An Analysis of Class Composition is focusing attention on ability grouping or tracking. The NEA Research Spotlight on Academic Ability Group defines ability grouping:

Ability grouping, also known as tracking, is the practice of grouping children together according to their talents in the classroom. At the elementary school level, the divisions sound harmless enough – kids are divided into the Bluebirds and Redbirds. But in secondary schools, the stratification becomes more obvious as students assume their places in the tracking system. In many instances, these students are given labels that stay with them as they move from grade to grade. For those on the lower tracks, a steady diet of lower expectations leads to a low level of motivation toward school. Consequently, in high school, the groups formerly known as the Bluebirds and Redbirds have evolved into tracks: College Preparatory and Vocational.

The educational practice of ability grouping emerged around the turn of the 20th century as a way to prepare students for their “appropriate” place in the workforce (Cooper, 1996). Students with high abilities and skills were given intense, rigorous academic training while students with lower abilities were given a vocational education.

The two most common forms of ability grouping are:

  • Within-class grouping – a teacher’s practice of putting students of similar ability into small groups usually for reading or math instruction
  • Between-class grouping –  a school’s practice of separating students into different classes, courses, or course sequences (curricular tracks) based on their academic achievement

Proponents of ability grouping say that the practice allows teachers to tailor the pace and content of instruction much better to students’ needs and, thus, improve student achievement. For example, teachers can provide needed repetition and reinforcement for low-achieving students and an advanced level of instruction to high achievers.

Opponents, however, contend that ability grouping not only fails to benefit any student, but it also channels poor and minority students to low tracks where they receive a lower quality of instruction than other groups. This, they claim, contributes to a widening of the achievement gaps. The National Education Association supports the elimination of such groupings. NEA believes that the use of discriminatory academic tracking based on economic status, ethnicity, race, or gender must be eliminated in all public school settings (NEA Resolutions B-16, 1998, 2005) http://www.nea.org/tools/16899.htm

Collins and Li studied data from the Dallas Independent School District.

Jay Mathews writes in the Washington Post article, Ability grouping is back despite scholarly qualms:

Except that it did, as Brookings Institution education expert Tom Loveless reveals in a new report. The canaries, redbirds and other ability-group fauna took a huge hit from scholars studying inequity in American schools in the 1970s and 1980s. Teachers moved away from ability grouping.

Now, without much notice, they have moved back. Depending on your point of view, the No Child Left Behind law deserves credit or blame for the return of my bluebirds and lesser fowl.

Loveless, senior fellow at Brookings’s Brown Center on Education Policy, examines this turnabout in his new report, “How Well Are American Students Learning?” He is a former teacher with an eye for newsworthy developments in education reform.

One of the earliest and sharpest attacks on ability grouping was Ray C. Rist’s 1970 paper, “Student Social Class and Teacher Expectations: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in Ghetto Education.” Loveless says Rist “followed a group of kindergarten students through the first few years of school and noted how the composition of the reading groups rarely changed, consistently reflecting students’ socioeconomic status.” Rist said teachers developed higher expectations for the more affluent kids in the top groups.

Other scholars assaulted tracking, the practice of putting classes at different levels in the same grade, rather than the ability-grouping approach of different levels in the same class. Jeannie Oakes’s 1985 book “Keeping Track” argues that tracking was an attack on social justice, making inequality worse.

Loveless’s research shows that the anti-tracking movement had some effect, although middle schools and high schools still have one set of courses for college-oriented students and a less demanding set in the same subjects for those not so academically inclined.

The biggest triumph of the anti-trackers, particularly evident in this area, has been the opening of college-level classes like Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and the Advanced International Certificate of Education to all students who want to take them.

Ability grouping declined more sharply than tracking did in the face of the scholarly assault. A 1986 Johns Hopkins survey found bluebird/redbird/canary/etc. groupings in at least 80 percent of elementary schools. By the mid-1990s, such grouping had dropped to as low as 27 percent, according to another study.

Then it rebounded. A 2006 survey found that ability grouping was back to 63 percent of teachers. The jump was even more pronounced in fourth-grade reports from the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress, from 28 percent of students in ability groups in 1998 to 71 percent in 2009. The jump in math ability groups was from 40 percent of students in 1996 to 61 percent in 2011.

Washington area school officials tell me tracking and ability grouping is permitted as long as students are not stuck at one level and are helped to improve.

Studies show teachers prefer ability grouping to teaching all students, fast and slow, at the same time. Ability grouping also helps them focus on those children closest to reaching the proficiency targets under No Child Left Behind. This retread from my youth is back, and likely to stay, no matter what researchers and my mom think of it. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/class-struggle/post/ability-grouping-is-back-despite-scholarly-qualms/2013/03/17/5dc15a1c-8df8-11e2-9f54-f3fdd70acad2_blog.html


Does Sorting Students Improve Scores? An Analysis of Class Composition

Courtney A. Collins, Li Gan

NBER Working Paper No. 18848
Issued in February 2013
NBER Program(s):   ED

This paper examines schools’ decisions to sort students into different classes and how those sorting processes impact student achievement. There are two potential effects that result from schools creating homogeneous classes—a “tracking effect,” which allows teachers to direct their focus to a more narrow range of students, and a peer effect, which causes a particular student’s achievement to be influenced by the quality of peers in his classroom. In schools with homogeneous sorting, both the tracking effect and the peer effect should benefit high performing students. However, the effects would work in opposite directions for a low achieving student; he would benefit from the tracking effect, but the peer effect should decrease his score. This paper seeks to determine the net effect for low performing students in order to understand the full implications of sorting on all students.

We use a unique student-level data set from Dallas Independent School District that links students to their actual classes and reveals the entire distribution of students within a classroom. We find significant variation in sorting practices across schools and use this variation to identify the effect of sorting on student achievement. Implementing a unique instrumental variables approach, we find that sorting homogeneously by previous performance significantly improves students’ math and reading scores. This effect is present for students across the score distribution, suggesting that the net effect of sorting is beneficial for both high and low performing students. We also explore the effects of sorting along other dimensions, such as gifted and talented status, special education status, and limited English proficiency.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

There are pros and cons of ability grouping.

Margie of Bright Hub Education lists the pros and cons of ability grouping in the article, The Pros and Cons of Ability Grouping:

Positive Aspects of Ability Grouping

Students Are Not Forced To Wait Or Rush

When you place students of the same ability together, they usually are able to work at about the same pace. This means the students that understand the concept you are teaching can move on to a more advanced stage and the ones that need extra guidance can slow down and get extra help. No one is waiting on someone else to grasp a concept (that they already understand) and no one is being forced to move on before they are ready.

Teacher Can Work More Intensely With Those That Need Help

When you divide your class into ability groups, you will have groups that completely understand the topic and are ready to move on to something new. You will have groups that understand most of the concept but need some extra practice, and you will have groups that need extra instruction and guidance before they can progress. Since they are seated and working together, you can take this opportunity to sit with the ones that need extra instruction and provide it for them. The other students have their assignments, so they are busy working on material that has been tailored to fit their needs, so this frees you up to spend some time with those who need it.

Students Are Allowed to “Fly” On Their Own

The students that clearly understand a concept have time to move forward and progress at a faster pace and possibly move on to a more complex topic. This can build self-esteem and alleviate boredom in the classroom.

Negative Aspects of Ability Grouping

Students May Get “Stuck” In a Group

It is important to remember that no student is perfect at everything and no student is bad at everything. Sometimes, when we ability group it is easy to label students and place them in the same low, middle, or high group time after time. This can lead to labeling, (the “nerdy group” or the “dumb group”) something teachers want to avoid at all costs. Afterall, a huge part of our job is to make our students feel confident and secure.

It is easy to avoid this by using a data notebook to track students’ progress. This way you do not unintentionally place students in the same groups time after time. If you follow the data, students will actually be placed according to their ability.

If you do notice that students are consistently being placed in the same group, you might want to shake things up and step away from ability grouping for awhile, or try some heterogeneous grouping. School is hard enough for our students, we certainly don’t want to give anyone a reason to bully or tease a classmate.

Additional Work For The Teacher

Ability grouping can add additional work for the teacher… and teachers are certainly busy enough. Ability grouping is not something that has to be done every day, or even every week if you are having a particularly busy week. Figure out the concepts where you seem to have the most differing abilities and use ability grouping only in those areas. Ability grouping can be very beneficial, but only if it is done thoughtfully and with a plan in mind. If you are simply too busy to undertake it one week, put it off until the next.

Ability grouping can be looked at as simply another tool in your toolbox. Pull it out when you need it and when it will work for both you and your students. http://www.brighthubeducation.com/classroom-management/19620-pros-and-cons-of-ability-grouping/

Moi shares the concerns of the NEA that poor students and students of color may be channeled into lower aspirational tracks.

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Legal theft: Education institutions claim copyright ownership of teacher and student work

3 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi read with interest that Prince Georges County was considering taking copyright ownership of student work. Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Washington Post article, Prince George’s considers copyright policy that takes ownership of students’ work:

A proposal by the Prince George’s County Board of Education to copyright work created by staff and students for school could mean that a picture drawn by a first-grader, a lesson plan developed by a teacher or an app created by a teen would belong to the school system, not the individual.

The measure has some worried that by the system claiming ownership to the work of others, creativity could be stifled and there would be little incentive to come up with innovative ways to educate students. Some have questioned the legality of the proposal as it relates to students.

“There is something inherently wrong with that,” David Cahn, an education activist who regularly attends county school board meetings, said before the board’s vote to consider the policy. “There are better ways to do this than to take away a person’s rights.”

If the policy is approved, the county would become the only jurisdiction in the Washington region where the school board assumes ownership of work done by the school system’s staff and students.

David Rein, a lawyer and adjunct law professor who teaches intellectual property at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, said he had never heard of a local school board enacting a policy allowing it to hold the copyright for a student’s work.

Universities generally have “sharing agreements” for work created by professors and college students, Rein said. Under those agreements, a university, professor and student typically would benefit from a project, he said.

“The way this policy is written, it essentially says if a student writes a paper, goes home and polishes it up and expands it, the school district can knock on the door and say, ‘We want a piece of that,’ ” Rein said. “I can’t imagine that.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/prince-georges-considers-copyright-policy-that-takes-ownership-of-students-work/2013/02/02/dc592dea-6b08-11e2-ada3-d86a4806d5ee_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

The Free Dictionary defines theft:

A criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that person’s consent.

The term theft is sometimes used synonymously with Larceny. Theft, however, is actually a broader term, encompassing many forms of deceitful taking of property, including swindling, Embezzlement, and False Pretenses. Some states categorize all these offenses under a single statutory crime of theft.

OK, moi gets that BIG INSTITUTIONS have been able to manipulate the rules to benefit them and their flow of $$$$. But, shouldn’t the game be fair???? Also, Prince Georges wants to take control of student creations. Really.

Here is an explanation from the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Sponsored Research:

Who is an author and who is an owner?

Under the copyright law, the creator of the original expression in a work is its author. The author of a copyright is not the same thing as the owner of the copyright, although in many instances the author is also the owner.  See below.

Who is the owner?

Ownership of copyrightable works created at UCLA is determined in accordance with the UC 1992 Policy on Copyright Ownership. See the Who Owns What Chart and the UC Copyright Policy: www.universityofcalifornia.edu/copyright/systemwide/pcoi.html.

In general, copyrights are owned by the people who create the works of expression, with some important exceptions:

  • If a work is created by an employee of UCLA in the course of his or her employment, UCLA owns the copyright.

  • In most cases, the general rule is that faculty own those copyrightable works that they create as scholarly or aesthetic works. There are some exceptions, generally determined by project funding.

  • In most cases, course work and syllabi that you create are your own, unless “exceptional university resources” or sponsored or departmental funds are used in the creation.

  • If you create the work in the course of sponsored research, or using special departmental funds, or are otherwise relying upon “exceptional university resources,” UCLA likely owns the copyright and you should disclose it to OIP for further evaluation and discussion.

  • Works that are “made for hire” are generally the property of the organization that hired the contractor. Therefore, if you pay an outside vendor to create or assist in creation of a potentially copyrightable work, such as software, photographs, or video/film footage, you should be sure to have an advance, written agreement which specifies that the vendor is doing a “work for hire” and also agrees to assign all rights to the Regents. Feel free to contact OIP at 310-794-0558 for suggested language.                                 https://oip.ucla.edu/copyright/authorship-and-ownership

UCLA’s policy is typical of large research universities. It is not just universities who are claiming copyright in work product.

Tim Walker writes at the NEA site in the article, Legal Controversy Over Lesson Plans:

Anyway, if everybody sells everything on the Web, the thinking goes, then why can’t teachers peddle their lesson plans – original content created on their own time – over the Internet?

Maybe because there is a good chance that you don’t actually own the copyright to the classroom materials you produce.

Intellectual Property: It’s Complicated

“This is a legal issue,” says Cynthia Chmielewski of NEA’s Office of General Counsel. “So if you want to sell your lesson plans online, make sure you actually own them.”

As far as Carol Sanders is concerned, she does.

“This is America,” says Sanders, a veteran English teacher in Brooten, Minnesota. “My district does not own me. And I own what I create for the classroom.”

Right on the first two counts, but does Sanders also “own” the teaching materials she produces?

The short answer is . . . it depends.

If your employment contract assigns copyright ownership of materials produced for the classroom to the teacher, then you probably have a green light. Absent any written agreement, however, the Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that materials created by teachers in the scope of their employment are deemed “works for hire” and therefore the school owns them.

Sanders and many of her colleagues, however, believe that if they create materials on their own time, using their own equipment, they surely have the right to do with them as they please.

“Under the law,” explains Chmielewski, “this may not make a difference. The issue is whether you created the materials as part of your job duties.”

In 2004, a federal appellate court in New York ruled that “tests, quizzes, homework problems, and other teaching materials” were works made for hire owned by the district and that the “academic tradition” of granting authors ownership of their own scholarly work cannot be applied to materials not explicitly intended for publication. http://www.nea.org/home/37583.htm

Way back in the day, 1956, to be exact, C. Wright Mills wrote The Power Elite which talked about the concentration of power in the hands of a few. Mark Toma updated and explained Wright at Economist’s View in 2009.

In “The Power Elite” Toma opines:

So what is Mills’s theory, exactly? It is that there is a small subset of the American population that (1) possess a number of social characteristics in common (for example, elite university educations, membership in certain civic organizations); (2) are socially interconnected with each other through marriage, friendship, and business relationship; (3) occupy social positions that give them a durable ability to make a large number of the most momentous decisions for American society; (4) are largely insulated from effective oversight from democratic institutions (press, regulatory system, political constraint). They are an elite; they are a socially interconnected group; they possess durable power; and they are little constrained by open and democratic processes.                                         http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2009/07/the-power-elite.html

BIG educational institutions are simply the part of “power elite” and they will operate just like “too big to fail” banks, unions, and untouchable lobbyists and dysfunctional government. Their only interest is their self-preservation.

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr. Wilda.com

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Helping troubled children: The ‘Reconnecting Youth Program’

30 Oct

Many children arrive at school with mental health and social issues. In School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children:

Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University wrote the article, School psychologists: Shortage amid increased need which discusses the need for psychological support in schools.

The adolescent suicide rate continues to rise, with each suicide a dramatic reminder that the lives of a significant number of adolescents are filled with anxiety and stress. Most schools have more than a handful of kids wrestling with significant emotional problems, and schools at all levels face an ongoing challenge related to school violence and bullying, both physical and emotional.

Yet in many schools there is inadequate professional psychological support for students.

Although statistics indicate that there is a significant variation from state to state (between 2005- and 2011 the ratio of students per school psychologist in New Mexico increased by 180%, while in the same period the ratio decreased in Utah by 34%), the overall ratio is 457:1. That is almost twice that recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

THE NASP noted a shortage of almost 9,000 school psychologists in 2010 and projected a cumulative shortage of close to 15,000 by 2020. Mental Health America estimates that only 1 in 5 children in need of mental health services actually receive the needed services. These gross statistics also omit the special need of under funded schools and the increased roles school psychologists are being asked to play….

Even with the psychological services that should be provided and often aren’t, schools can’t fully prevent suicides, acts of violence, bullying, or the daily stresses that weigh on kids shoulders. The malaise runs deeper and broader.

Still schools need more resources than they receive in order to provide more programs that actively identify and counsel those kids that need help. At the very least, they need to alleviate some of the stress these kids are experiencing and to help improve the quality of their daily lives. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/school-psychologists-shortage-amid-increased-need/2012/02/26/gIQAU7psdR_blog.html

It is important to deal with the psychological needs of children because untreated depression can lead to suicide. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/27/school-psychologists-are-needed-to-treat-troubled-children/ In addition to psychological programs, schools can offer other resources to help students succeed in school and in life.

Rebecca Jones of Ed News Colorado writes about the Reconnecting Youth Program in the article, Reconnecting Youth program boosts teens:

Seventeen-year-old Chris Malcolm is the first to admit he squandered a lot of his high school years because he just didn’t care.

Members of Robin Albert’s Reconnecting Youth class at Summit High School in Frisco.

I was like, I don’t care about school, I don’t care if I’m here, it’s so boring I can’t deal with it,” said Malcolm, a senior at Summit High School in Frisco. “But now, I can tell myself the day’s gonna be fine, I’m fine, and I’m capable of doing school.”

Malcolm will graduate in the spring and intends to enroll in Colorado Mountain College. He hopes to become either a distiller or a meteorologist, and eventually he wants to live in New York City. Whatever, he’s got a plan, and he’s working to make it happen.

He credits the turnaround in his life to one class, which he’s taking this year. It meets second period, three days a week.

It’s called Reconnecting Youth, and it’s a special class for at-risk youth. In Summit County it’s offered in partnership between the school district and county Department of Youth and Family Services. Elsewhere around the state a handful of schools also partner with social service agencies to offer the class…

The program has been shown to improve more than just grades, though that and a decrease in absenteeism are the easiest markers to quantify. Nationwide, students enrolled in the class have exhibited a 50 percent decrease in hard drug use, a 75 percent reduction in depression, an 80 percent reduction in suicidal behaviors, a 32 percent decline in perceived stress and a 23 percent increase in “self-efficacy” or a sense of personal control. Since its creation in the 1990s, Reconnecting Youth has been touted as one of the strongest evidence-based programs for decreasing teen suicide, drug involvement and poor school performance.

As Malcolm describes it, the class has taught him how to talk himself out of helplessness. “I just tell myself that things aren’t ever as bad as they look,” he said. “They’re only as bad as I let them be. I have control….”

Program focuses on decision making, personal control

The curriculum can be taught in a semester or over a whole year. It focuses on self-esteem, decision-making, personal control and interpersonal communications. Strategies for establishing drug-free activities and friendships outside of class are also stressed.

The program was developed at the University of Washington over the course of three federal grants spanning seven years in the 1990s. Since then, training in the program has been repeatedly offered around the country in almost every state, said Beth McNamara, director of program and training for Reconnecting Youth. http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2012/10/30/51106-reconnecting-youth-program-boosts-teens

Here is what Reconnecting Youth says about their program:


Reconnecting Youth Inc. is dedicated to researching, developing, testing and disseminating prevention programs for youth at risk and to training those who use our programs to implement them with fidelity. Our award-winning programs have been recognized for over a decade as models for evidence-based prevention and are included on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Our company has received generous support to develop and test our programs and the effectiveness of our training from the National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Nursing Research, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the US Department of Education.

We are confident that together we can make significant gains in assisting youth to succeed in school and in life.


We have numerous publications documenting the efficacy of the Reconnecting Youth (RY) and Coping and Support Training (CAST) Programs.

Read about the participants, prevention mechanisms and theory behind the numerous RY Studies and CAST Studies. Review the outcomes for the youth involved in our efficacy trials by viewing the RY Findings and the CAST Findings. http://www.reconnectingyouth.com/about/

In order for schools to help many children succeed, they will have to look at the “whole child approach.”

In The ‘whole child’ approach to education, moi said:

Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process.

The National Education Association (NEA) describes the “whole child” approach to learning in the paper, Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child:

Meeting the needs of the whole child requires:

Addressing multiple dimensions, including students’ physical, social and emotional health and well-being.

Ensuring equity, adequacy and sustainability in resources and quality among public schools and districts.

Ensuring that students are actively engaged in a wide variety of experiences and settings within—and outside—the classroom.

Providing students with mentors and counselors as necessary to make them feel safe and secure.

Ensuring that the condition of schools is modern and up-to-date, and that schools provide access to a broad array of resources.

Reducing class size so that students receive the individualized attention they need to succeed.

Encouraging parental and community involvement. http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/WholeChildBackgrounder.pdf

ASCD, (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) along with the NEA is leading in the adoption of the “whole child” approach. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

In order to ensure that ALL children have a basic education, we must take a comprehensive approach to learning.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


Johns Hopkins study finds ‘Positive Behavior Intervention’ improves student behavior                                                  https://drwilda.com/2012/10/22/johns-hopkins-study-finds-positive-behavior-intervention-improves-student-behavior/

Pre-kindergarten programs help at-risk students prepare for school                                                                                   http://drwilda.com/2012/07/16/pre-kindergarten-programs-help-at-risk-students-prepare-for-school/

A strategy to reduce school suspensions: ‘School Wide Positive Behavior Support’                                                 https://drwilda.com/2012/07/01/a-strategy-to-reduce-school-suspensions-school-wide-positive-behavior-support/

U.S. Education Dept. Civil Rights Office releases report on racial disparity in school retention                                     https://drwilda.com/2012/03/07/u-s-education-dept-civil-rights-office-releases-report-on-racial-disparity-in-school-retention/

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